Wireless Communication Technologies
Technologies that have long-range transmission capabilities and are capable of moving through the earth and metals couldn't be identified. Below, available information was outlined, followed by explanations of why the requested information couldn't be provided.
- This communication technology is used by underground workers to communicate through solid media such as rocks and coal.
- The technology relies on very low frequency transmissions to provide mines, subways, tunnel workers and pipelines with wireless communication, sensor monitoring and data analysis, such as to trigger emergency warnings.
- The system is widely accessible (it is sold by Vital Alert Communication Inc.) but does not cover large distances, that is, it only enables audio transmissions for up to 1000 feet of distance.
Additional helpful findings
- Low-frequency transmissions have the ability to travel through earth, including coal and rocks.
- Ultrasound waves have the ability to travel through metal, but communication technologies that use ultrasonic waves to transmit data are still largely tested and in the development processes.
Search suggests wireless communication technologies that go through metal are still in the development phases and not yet available to customers. Ultrasound systems have been proposed as solutions to these problems, however wireless ultrasound communication solutions don't seem to be applied in the industries that work underground, such as mining, so far. In other industries such as healthcare, search suggests these solutions are currently being tested.
We started our search by directly searching for lists of wireless communication technologies that are long-range, strong enough to penetrate metals and the ground, and accessible, but even though we found lists of wireless communication technologies in general, lists of wireless communication technologies suitable for underground use didn't appear to exist. We also searched for lists of wireless communication technologies used in the mining industry, since these need to be long-range, strong enough to move through metal and soil and small in size, but all we were able to find this way were lists of wired communication technologies used in the industry.
Since search determined lists of wireless communication technologies are available, we attempted to find a comprehensive list of wireless communication technologies, in order to examine each of them to determine whether they fit they criteria. This approach hasn't been successful because none of the identified communication technologies had the ability to move through walls and similar solid objects, except for satellite technologies, which didn't meet the criteria of being available and small in size.
We decided to study the wireless transmission process. We found that low-frequency signals are the best at moving through solid objects, such as coal, which is why they are used in the mining industry. For that reason, we specifically searched for wireless communication technologies that rely on low-frequency waves, are small in size and publicly accessible. This way, we found that the Through-the-Earth system, which is publicly distributed, relies on low-frequency waves to penetrate through earth, but is short-range (only transmits signals up to 1000 ft of distance). We also found several reports describing how certain companies are developing or planning to develop low-frequency transmitter technologies, but apart from the aforementioned communication system, no other widely accessible systems could be found.
Since we also found that ultrasonic waves can move through metal, we searched for wireless communication technologies that are based on ultrasonic transmissions, but what we found were research studies that described how ultrasonic wireless technologies are being tested for potential applications in specific industries, such as healthcare. Wireless communication technology systems that use ultrasonic waves to transmit data couldn't be identified.